When most people think of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), they think of stereotypical wheelchair ramps, elevators, or handicapped parking spaces. While these are all certainly examples of being ADA compliant, the ADA also factors into digital content creation. Over 50 million Americans are disabled, and the ADA has been instrumental in increasing their overall quality of life. The internet has quite literally changed the entire world, and for disabled people, this change has also led to a massive increase in their ability to both use and interact with digital technology. For the majority of people who are disabled, visiting stores or other types of businesses in-person can be challenging. This is why the internet has been a saving grace for disabled people (of all types and severities). With the advent of online shopping, disabled people can now experience the full shopping experience just like they would at a physical store. But it’s not just limited to shopping. Disabled people use the internet for everything nowadays (just like everyone else). You’re probably starting to understand why being ADA compliant is important. Not only can it lead to increased business, but it can also help millions of people live more fulfilling lives. It can also protect you against lawsuits (which is always nice). Should Your Website Be Compliant with the ADA? The ADA is typically thought of as dealing with physical locations (e.g. wheelchair accessibility, handicapped parking spaces, etc.). After it was enacted in 1990, this has been the primary focus of the law. But what about newer technology? The internet has caused a massive shift in focus to accessibility standards. With that being said, does the ADA also incorporate websites into its regulations? When the ADA was first signed into law, people were more worried about physical accessibility issues. However, now that eCommerce has grown into one of the largest industries in the history of the world, and with the IoT continuing to expand, as well as mobile device use increasing, digital accessibility is as important as ever The ADA applies to commercial websites. This means that if your business has a website, it generally needs to be ADA compliant. There have been numerous court cases filed against website owners/businesses for not being ADA compliant, and nearly all of them were found in favor of the claimant. Each year there are hundreds of ADA-related court cases filed against all kinds of private websites. To make sure that you’re not included in this statistic, it’s recommended that you undergo an ADA audit. Various types of ADA compliance testing methods offer solutions to becoming fully ADA compliant. But, you can also manually test your own website. If you’re interested in manually reviewing your website you can learn more about ADA checklists/guidelines on this page. ADA Compliance & WCAG Standards for Websites WCAG (short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a list of guidelines created by W3C (a non-profit web standards organization). The guidelines were last updated in iteration 2.1, and include a host of new focus areas of businesses to include in their accessibility reviews. There are three levels of WCAG, A to AAA (with A being the lowest level of accessibility and AAA being the highest). For most websites, the goal is to be accessible at the AA level. AAA is typically only reserved for certain types of content/websites. Making sure that your website is compliant with WCAG 2.1 is the best way to bolster your content strategy’s approach to accessibility. Examples of WCAG Compliance WCAG’s newest iteration (WCAG 2.1) focuses on a variety of issues that once implemented on any website, will instantly make it more accessible to those in need. One of the primary focuses is on alt-text. Alt-text is a common term in the SEO industry, where it is essentially used to describe non-textual content (e.g. images). However, SEO techniques don’t always go hand-in-hand with accessibility, so it’s imperative that you swap search optimization for accessibility (if you want to be ADA compliant that is). One of the main areas of focus revolves around “Operable” issues. Things like keyboard accessible content, non-time limited content, and easily navigated content structures are important in WCAG 2.1. Focusing on uploading content that doesn’t cause seizures is another key area included in WCAG. An example of this would be a flashing graphic or video. Flashes are required to be either very slow or under a certain threshold. If you’re interested in learning more about WCAG compliance (and reading specific examples of it) go to this page.